God blessed me to marry a woman who is my polar opposite in many ways. For example, I’m a spender while she’s a saver. She has every penny of our income accounted for and earmarked for a specific purpose. I, on the other hand, am prone to ballpark the budget and spend accordingly, often more than I should.
When it comes to finances, frugality can be a godly virtue. God has called us to be good stewards. Our spiritual riches, however, are another matter altogether. We don’t need to skimp and save. Frankly, it would be a mistake to leave our spiritual bank accounts untouched as though we could somehow deplete them. We have immeasurable riches in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7). Draining the account isn’t possible.
In the latter part of Ephesians 1, Paul prays for the believers in Ephesus. Specifically, he wants them to embrace these riches we have as members of God’s redeemed family. We have an eternal inheritance. We’re not saving for retirement; a retirement with full benefits is guaranteed. What are you waiting for? You won the lottery. Enjoy it.
Please don’t take my analogy the wrong way. The Bible does not promote prodigal living. I’m talking about making use of the heavenly blessings which God has given us by his grace. Just as there is a difference between hearing the gospel and knowing the gospel, knowing the gospel is not the same as knowing the fullness of the gospel.
Let me explain.
Imagine a man who has spent years of his life in prison. His parole date finally arrives, and he goes free. While we might expect this man to embrace his freedom and make the most of it, he doesn’t. It’s not that he returns to his life of crime, but he also makes no effort to improve his circumstances.
He finds a hole-in-the-wall apartment that’s hardly bigger than his former prison cell. He works just enough hours to buy food. Again, he hasn’t returned to his life of crime, but he’s not taking advantage of his freedom either. His standard of living is hardly better than it was while he was still incarcerated.
I fear that many Christians live the same way. They’ve known the power of the gospel. They’ve put their trust in Jesus. After their conversions, perhaps they were even zealous to serve God and others. Maybe they committed themselves to continual prayer and reading the Bible. But as the years passed, they’ve settled into a state of apathy. Their spiritual treasures seem to have lost their luster. Sure, they’re Christians freed from the bondage of sin, but their spiritual lives are mediocre at best.
Mediocrity is not what Jesus intended for us. He said, “I came that the sheep may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:10, 11). Christ has not died so that we could start over at zero. He raised us from the pit of hell to the heavenly places so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace (Eph 2:6-7).
Paul prays for believers. “I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus,” he says (Eph 1:15). What is his prayer? He wanted to see their hearts enlightened to the riches of God’s glorious inheritance in the saints, and the immeasurable greatness of his power (Eph 1:18-19). Their faith was real, but their understanding was yet lacking.